Research Papers

Case Study of the Minsk II Accords

Beyond Intractability
May 2017
“In February 2015, the Minsk II Accords were signed by leaders of Ukraine, Russia, France, Germany, and Ukrainian separatists. The goal of this document was to end armed fighting and resolve the conflict between the Ukrainian government and the secessionist oblasts of Donetsk and Luhansk. Minsk II constituted a series of thirteen steps, including a cease-fire, amnesty, local elections, and finally restoration of Ukrainian federal control but accompanied by constitutional reform. This agreement was a follow up to a previously attempted peace treaty in 2014 that had fallen apart, but Minsk II itself failed to hold. This paper examines why the first two steps in the treaty have not been upheld and uses the theories of realism and the spoiler problem as lenses through which to view the conflict. This case study concludes that the lack of consideration given to Russia and America’s interests and their ability to act as spoilers are the main reasons why the accords failed.”

A South Korean vs Chinese Socioeconomic Reconstruction in a Collapsed North Korea

Research Paper II written for course on Prevention, Reconstruction, and Stabilization
December 6, 2016
“Both the ROK and the PRC have the capacity to economically reconstruct North Korea
and bring it into their own systems. In either scenario North Koreans would be better off than they currently are or would be in the immediate aftermath of a regime collapse. Standards of living would rise, markets would grow and become legalized, and North Koreans would eventually adjust more-than-not to the new system. When it comes down to exactly how successful economic reconstruction would be and, perhaps more importantly, how social efforts at reconciliation and justice would go, it is a South Korean-intervention that clearly works best. The ROK would take in the advice, funding, and volunteers from other countries and global organizations that the PRC may turn away and the entire socioeconomic reconstruction effort would benefit from it. The statements and plans of the South Korean Ministry of Unification and the surveys of North Koreans demonstrate that there already exists some shared ground to build
any reconstruction upon. If the point of reconstruction is to help those at whom the intervention is targeted, then a South Korean one would better take into account North Koreans’ needs and wants, creating a stronger integration in the long-run through local input and buy-in.”

China’s Interests in Rebuilding North Korea After Collapse

Research Paper I written for course on Prevention, Reconstruction, and Stabilization
November 6, 2016
“The collapse of a weak, but heavily militarized, state would create a power vacuum
in an area historically contested by great powers including Russia, China, Japan, the United States, and Korea itself. That vacuum would be filled, but the question is by whom. In addition to power competition, there would be the immediate humanitarian and rule-of-law concerns with how to feed and provide security for a starving and desperate North Korean populace. These concerns include any internally displaced peoples (IDPs) or externally displaced peoples (EDPs) who may have fled their homes during the collapse. Also there is the question of what to do with over 1.2 million DPRK soldiers and reservists and the thousands of civil officials, especially those who committed crimes against humanity. In addition, there are many longer-term concerns
such as integrating the DPRK into South Korea’s free market system, working to overcome socio-cultural differences, and building new institutions and norms in North Korea that integrates them into South Korea’s democratic political system. Into this scenario we must bring China’s core national interests and see what impact they
would have on any multi-actor effort at North Korean reconstruction.”

Strategic Empathy as a Tool of Statecraft

2015-16 National Interest Young Leaders Non-Resident Fellowship Paper
November 1, 2016
“Empathy isn’t normally the first word that comes to mind when scholars write or talk about foreign policy, security, or grand strategy. In fact, if the word empathy was used in the same sentence as the phrases “foreign policy”, “security”, or “grand strategy”, one might be forgiven for assuming that the person using that word was either embarrassingly naïve or hopelessly radical. After all, empathy is a term that often carries with it emotionally warm or idealistic connotations that can also seem to include a desire to actively emotionally sympathize with or even aid whomever empathy is being practiced on. Such connotations and altruism do not readily make empathy a useful paradigm in foreign policy. It is well known that most foreign policy literature normally does not even consider empathy or else actively is hostile to the idea as being against the brutal realities of human nature or as dangerous to the national interest. Indeed, the only exceptions seem to be in the fields of international development, human rights and relief work, or conflict resolution and peace studies.

Yet despite all of this, if framed properly, empathy can be seen as a useful tool for serving the national interest in harmony with a realist grand strategy paradigm. This paper argues that a redefined, more strategic empathy, not only fills several holes in traditional international relations theory but is also essential to a fully-functioning grand strategy. To demonstrate this, empathy will be examined and defined as a means to better understand other actors with whom American foreign policy interacts with. Secondly, the theoretical implications of empathy, along with objections, will be considered. Third, this paper will use two case studies to demonstrate the usefulness of empathy; one focusing on America’s opening to China under President Richard Nixon and the other on America’s policy failures during the initial occupation of Iraq under President Bush. Finally, this paper will conclude with a few policy suggestions regarding both case studies and some empathetic shifts regarding overall U.S. grand strategy.”

Deterrence and Restraint, A Reappraisal of American Grand Strategy Towards Russia

Written for course on US Grand Strategy
December 1, 2015
“If the end goal of American grand strategy in this situation is to maintain its physical
security through avoiding war and to engage in limited value projection, then the best option is to recognize these Russian demands and to advocate that Ukraine become neutral ground that is neither aligned with the West or with Russia. Two of the most prominent and experienced figures on American-Russian relations, Kissinger and Gorbachev, agree on this point and believe it is the best way to avoid escalation and great power war. Washington should provide some limited assistance to Ukrainian forces in the forms of non-lethal aid and training to put pressure on Russia but should never send lethal aid or combat troops as such action would force an increased military reaction from Putin. America must maintain credible military deterrence in the Baltics and Poland, but the West must also offer sanctions relief pending the completion of Minsk II or a similar agreement. The use of American military units as a defense and trip wire for larger NATO action in the Baltics and Poland will send a clear warning while the potential for sanctions relief and normalized economic ties will provide an incentive for Russia to move forward on Minsk II. Putin wants his core interests recognized and is willing to pay a higher price to make that happen. America doesn’t have a strong enough core interest at stake to pay a higher price and so should recognize those interests to the extent that they don’t compromise American’s own core ones.”

Return to Realism: American Leadership Based on Core Interests

National Interest Young Leaders Fellowship Application Essay
October 9, 2015
“In one of the standard handbooks of American foreign policy, Foreign Affairs Strategy, Dr. Terry L. Deibel puts forward that any American purpose must at a minimum include, in order of priority, “Physical Security, Economic Prosperity, Value Preservation at Home, and Value Projection Overseas.” This list includes the core American interests that most administrations have attempted to pursue, in one way or another, since the founding of the United States with the last interest being added permanently roughly after World War II. The purpose of America’s international leadership is to defend and advance these interests while doing so in a constructive, pragmatic way. One of the main domestic dangers facing this purpose is the ideology of neoconservatism, the policies of which often results in costly overextension through the shortsighted overuse of hard power.”

Neorealism, Functionalism, and Chosen-Trauma in American-Chinese Relations

Written for course Theories of Conflict and Conflict Resolution
August 7, 2015
“This paper argues that the U.S. and the P.R.C. are currently locked into a regional hegemonic conflict as the result of (1) great power politics and the security dilemma in an anarchical system, (2) the lack of sufficient positive adjustment and adaption on the part of the American-led international system, and (3) contradictory historical-political histories and beliefs by both the Americans and Chinese which negatively color perceptions of each other. Furthermore, this paper asserts that given these factors and the potential for massive violence, the current American-Chinese conflict can at best be managed and contained, not resolved. Finally, this paper suggests a realistic, and nuanced, strategy for managing this conflict and preventing war can be found in using a combination of neorealist disincentives and liberal/functionalist incentives within the physiological framework of chosen-trauma.”